Title: Reclamation, Part Three
Rating/Pairing: PG-13, M&S (w/William)
Summary: In the fall of 2012, William Van de Kamp shows up on Mulder and Scully's doorstep. As they learn about the circumstances that brought him to them, they must learn to be a family together while also protecting William from the conspiracy that still seeks to use him for their own purposes.
Feedback: Yes, please. email@example.com
Archive: Not to Gossamer. I'll submit directly there. Yes to anywhere else. Just let me know, please.
Warnings: Mild violence/violent imagery, mild bad language, William-centric (not baby-fic); Post-IWTB, mytharc-ish.
Author's Notes: Written for XF Big Bang 2010. Thanks to all who helped me--my sister, my great beta, Anubis (whose knowledge of guns and ammo came in very handy!) and my great artist, Fidella!
Crystal City, VA
Monday, October 8, 5:55 am
Skinner's phone rang in the dark, startling him awake. He groped blindly for the phone with one hand and for his glasses with the other.
"Skinner," he rasped into the phone, his voice gruff with sleep.
"It's me," Mulder said simply. "We need to talk somewhere safe."
"What is it?" Skinner asked, his head instantly clear.
"Not on the phone. Meet me."
"I'll have to make it later today--this afternoon. I'll call you."
"That'll work. See you then."
Skinner glanced at the clock just as the alarm began to buzz. His heart was already pounding. Something was terribly wrong or was about to go wrong. He rubbed his head as he untangled his feet from the covers. He had hoped the bad times were finally behind them.
He grabbed his bathrobe and headed for the shower.
Outside of Richmond
The smell of bacon and coffee wafted up the stairs as William slowly opened his eyes. He was alone in the big bed, sunlight streaming into the room. He heard the shower running in the bathroom and he shifted uncomfortably on the bed. He really needed to pee. Was there another bathroom in the house?
He got up and slipped downstairs, following his nose toward the kitchen.
To his surprise it was Mulder tending the stove, still in the pajamas he'd worn last night.
"Will!" Mulder said with a smile. "Ready for some breakfast?"
"Um..." William squirmed a little. "I need to use the restroom, but..."
"Right through there, just under the stairs," Mulder said, pointing with his spatula.
"Thanks." William hurried along, his bare feet chilled by the cold tile floor. When he came back into the kitchen, Scully was there, already dressed, her damp hair pulled back into a ponytail. Mulder had set the table and waved him over.
"Come and eat...Will," Mulder said, biting back the urge to call him "son" again. "Um...do you mind if I call you Will?"
William shook his head. For some reason his adoptive parents had always used his full name, but he liked the way Mulder treated him and liked the way his shortened name sounded coming from this man.
Scully poured each of them a glass of orange juice as Mulder poured two cups of coffee and set a plate of toast on the table.
"I hope you like eggs and bacon," Mulder said, bringing over a plate of scrambled eggs and a small pile of bacon.
"You did the cooking?" William asked. He knew that some men cooked, but in his house his mom had done all the cooking. His dad could grill a steak out on the barbecue, but he'd never cooked in the kitchen.
Mulder shrugged and smiled. "I've had time to learn. I...work from home...and Scully works at a hospital, so it's usually easier for me to cook."
William looked at Scully. "Are you going to work?" He didn't know why, but he didn't want her to leave.
"Not today," she answered as she served him some eggs. She noticed the subtle wave of relief that moved over his face. "I'm off for a couple of days."
"I do have to run an errand later today," Mulder said, looking briefly at Scully. "But there's no hurry this morning."
William nodded and tucked into his breakfast.
He'd missed him. His ass was on the line now if he didn't figure out how the kid had slipped away, or, more importantly, where he'd gone. The kid traveling on his own--how far could he get?
He couldn't snoop at the school or stay near the house much longer without arousing suspicion. The last thing he wanted to do was to get himself arrested. The local authorities were already searching the area and interviewing friends and neighbors now that the boy's teacher had reported him missing. The parents' bodies had been found and the forensics team was scouring the home for evidence.
Being a stranger in this little town would be enough to draw attention his way and he couldn't afford that. The dark-haired man knew that the people who had sent him out here would find a way to have him killed rather than let the local police find any connections to his "employers."
The kid had done something smart and at this point he couldn't find any trace of him. He'd have to get back to his handlers and see if there was something other than a physical trail.
Outside of Richmond
"May I be excused?" William asked politely, wiping his face with his napkin. "I think I'm finished."
"Sure," Mulder replied. "You can go ahead and put your plate in the sink."
"Yes, sir," the boy replied, rising from his chair. "If it's okay, I think I'm going to go upstairs and lie down. I'm still kind of tired."
"I'm sure you are," Scully said with a smile. "Let me know if you need anything. I'll bring your clothes up from the laundry room in a little while, okay?"
William nodded and was barely able to cover his mouth in time as a huge yawn escaped him. He put his things in the sink and headed back to his room.
"Mulder," Scully began quietly once the boy had left, "I want to run some tests on William."
Mulder looked at her over his coffee cup for a long silent moment.
"What kind of tests?"
"Blood tests, mostly. Though it wouldn't hurt to give him a quick, general once-over," she replied. "He felt a little feverish last night, and he was out in the rain for who knows how long." She tried to sound casual, but she knew that Mulder suspected what she was getting at.
"What else are you concerned about?" he pressed. He looked toward the doorway to make sure William had gone on upstairs.
"Magnetite," she said bluntly. "Before we start handling it here in the house with William around, I want to make sure he doesn't have any kind of adverse reaction to it." Her hands were suddenly cold and she pressed them together, studying the tabletop as she continued.
"I never did know exactly what was going on with him in those early days, but then Spender gave him that that injection. He said that it was a form of magnetite and that it would cure him."
She looked up at Mulder. "We don't know exactly what he was injected with, how that injection might have differed from the magnetite we've been studying, or if anything changed as he got older. He's on the verge of puberty now and that could be a factor. There are just too many variables. What if magnetite affects him the same way it does those replicants?"
Mulder opened his mouth but found nothing to say. He shook his head because he didn't want it to be true, but he knew he had no sure footing on this particular issue.
As they had begun to develop their plans for fighting against the replicants, he hadn't even considered William--he had been out of their lives for so long--or that one thing had anything to do with the other.
"And there's also the black oil virus," Scully continued. "We don't know whether or not the virus might be a factor in the invasion plans, but we have to assume it will be. It seems that exposure to the virus or the vaccine creates antibodies that seem to provide immunity. We know that William was considered special, by all those people--the syndicate, the aliens. But I never tested him for immunity to the black oil virus."
By now Mulder had put his coffee cup down on the table and his breakfast sat heavily in his stomach. He hadn't really wanted to think about these things in regard to William. He had found himself a little giddy this morning, making breakfast for his son, feeling more hopeful than worried, at least for the moment. But Scully was right. They had to be sure.
He nodded as he looked up at her. "You're right. You should go ahead and run the tests. I don't want to worry him any more just now, unless there's something to worry about."
He extended his hand across the table to her and she slipped her hand into his.
"I'm sure he'll be fine," she said hopefully.
Skinner walked into his office, nodding at his assistant.
"Good morning, sir," she said with a smile, handing him a small pile of paperwork from his inbox.
"Good morning, Kim," he replied, briefly catching her pretty eye. "Hold my calls today, please, and cancel my afternoon appointments. I won't be coming back after lunch today."
"Yes, sir," she said, trying to hide her surprise.
He paused at his inner office door, absently looking through the papers she'd given him.
"Kim, if you have anything you'd like to do this afternoon, feel free to take off after lunch."
"Thank you, sir," she replied, staring after him as he disappeared into his office. It had been a while since she'd seen him like this and it made her a little uneasy. But she had work to do, so she set her worry aside and began making calls to clear his afternoon schedule.
Skinner sat at his desk and started up his computer, his breakfast churning in his stomach as he turned Mulder's brief words over and over in his mind. Something was up, probably something Not Good, if Mulder wouldn't talk about it over the phone. No simple mysterious occurrence would make Mulder that paranoid.
It had to be something to do with what remained of the alien invasion plan. They had all done their best to clean house years ago, but they knew that some people had fallen through the cracks. Still, there hadn't been any news on this front in years.
Skinner entered Kersh's office with a knot of cold fear radiating out from his belly. The hairs on the back of his neck prickled up as he spied Kersh sprawled on the floor, blood seeping from the corner of his mouth.
Without thinking, Skinner pulled his weapon and put a bullet in the head of the man who had opened the door for him, then two more in the chest of the other man in the room. Soon the room would be swarming with agents and he had only a moment to get away.
But first he knelt at Kersh's side.
"Are you okay? Where are you hurt?"
"Go!" Kersh grated through clenched teeth. "You have to get out of here before they get up again. I already tried to kill them " He took a deep shuddering breath and pressed on. "If you can get away, you can fight them. Go, before they come back to life!" He pressed something into Skinner's palm. "Take it. Use it. Kill them!"
Kersh wasn't dead yet, but there was nothing Skinner could do for him if he wanted to get out alive. Even now the man with the bloody chest wound was stirring and Skinner knew the other man wouldn't be far behind.
"Play dead," Skinner whispered to Kersh. "I'll send help if I can."
With that he fled the room pressing past the other agents. "Send for an ambulance for Director Kersh!" he barked at the first man he saw, hoping that the two Replicants wouldn't kill everyone in their path to preserve their secret.
Skinner had never questioned where the vial of magnetite had come from, but he put it to use in the days and weeks following that ugly day.
Mulder and Scully had returned from their initial escape to the west and had joined forces with Skinner, Agents Doggett and Reyes, and a few trusted others, to flush the infiltrating alien replicants from within the FBI, but they were never completely sure they'd gotten to them all.
There had been some injuries and even some deaths among their colleagues, but in the end they felt they had achieved a sort of victory. Mulder and Scully chose to lay low, keeping Mulder away from those in the Bureau who still wanted to blame him for what had happened, while Doggett and Reyes had decided to take an assignment in California. It was a way to keep their careers intact, but it also allowed them to help keep an ear to the ground on that side of the country.
Skinner had sincerely hoped that somehow they had put a big enough monkey wrench in the aliens' invasion plans that they would move on or give up and decide that this small planet wasn't worth their efforts. But Mulder's cryptic phone call this morning cast doubt on all of their achievements.
With a deep sigh, Skinner began sorting through his morning's work, clearing his paperwork as much as possible. He had a feeling he was going to need an open schedule for the next few days at least.
Outside of Richmond
She jumped a little at the sound of his voice. Though she had thought of little else besides her son's return, she was still surprised at the reality of him.
"William!" she began as she turned to him. "You startled me a little. Did you have good nap?"
"Yes, ma'am," he answered, nodding. "I'm sorry I scared you. I just wanted to ask if I could have something to drink."
She smiled at him.
"Sure, honey, of course you can." She wanted to tell him that he didn't have to call her "Miss Scully", but she didn't know what to offer him as an alternative. She couldn't quite bring herself to suggest he call her "Mom" and she didn't feel it was right for him to call her "Dana".
She turned and indicated his things spread out on the counter. "I...uh...I'm sorry--I didn't mean to pry. Last night I was making sure I hadn't missed any of your laundry. I had laid everything out so your things could dry and I was about to put it all back in your pack."
"It's okay," he replied, looking over his belongings. "Sorry about all that trash." He gathered up the wrappers and the soda cup. "I didn't want to drop it on the ground. I don't believe in littering."
She smiled even wider at his earnestness.
"That's good. I don't either." She picked up the picture. "Would you like for me to find a frame for this? It'll be better protected and you can put it beside your bed."
He nodded, pressing his lips together as he thought about what she was saying.
"So, I can stay with you for a while?"
Her smile faded a little as she realized that he was afraid he wasn't welcome.
"Of course you can," she said warmly. "Whatever has happened, whatever will happen, you're with us now. You'll be safe here." She ran a hand over his head, resting it on his shoulder. "It's going to be okay, William. Now, what did you want to drink? Orange juice?"
"Do you have any soda?" he asked hopefully.
Scully served William a glass of juice and brought a plate of gingersnaps to the table.
"Thank you," William said politely, taking an experimental sip of juice. He liked orange juice, but he wondered if Scully and Mulder bought the kind with pulp or without. He felt he had to be on his best behavior, using his "company" manners. Even though Scully had just assured him that he was welcome, he knew he was a surprise and an intrusion.
He helped himself to one cookie and was suddenly reminded of home. He paused with the cookie held up to his nose.
"What is it?" Scully asked, puzzled.
"Gingersnaps," William said simply. He inhaled the fragrant spice again. "My grandmother used to give me gingersnaps."
Scully smiled at him.
"Mine, too." A worried thought crossed her mind. "Where does your grandmother live?"
"She passed away when I was eight," he said, his eyes lowered. He bit the cookie and chewed quietly, not meeting Scully's eyes, trying not to cry.
"Grandmothers always have the best cookies," Scully said, trying to lighten the conversation, helping herself to a cookie. She studied his face for a moment, satisfied that his little mood had passed. She had some business to get down to with him and now seemed like a good time.
"William," she began, "you know that I'm a doctor."
"Yes, ma'am," he replied around a mouthful of cookie.
"Well, I thought it would be a good idea to give you a quick check-up. After all you've been through and that walk in the rain last night, I just want to make sure everything's okay."
At his understanding nod, she continued.
"After you're finished with your snack I'll do the exam and get some blood samples. I'm going to gather the things I need while you eat and we'll do it upstairs in your room. You come and meet me up there whenever you're done."
"Yes, ma'am," he said as she rose from the table. He ate another cookie and finished his juice. No pulp--just the way he liked it.
Up in William's bedroom Scully had laid out her black medical bag, the bathroom scale, a measuring tape and a few other items on the small desk in the room. She was just taking out her stethoscope when William entered.
"Are you ready?" she asked with a smile. "I brought one of Mulder's undershirts for you to wear while I do your exam. Just take the sweats off and lay them on the bed."
He looked at the t-shirt, lying on the bed, and looked back at her, his face reddening as he wrapped his arms around his body.
"I'll turn my back while you change," she offered, giving him a little privacy.
He quickly changed into the oversized t-shirt, which thankfully hung down below his underwear. He had begun to get a little self-conscious about his body, even at home with his mother, let alone here in front of a stranger.
"Okay," he said, tugging at the hem of the t-shirt.
"Come over here and step on the scale for me." She noted his weight in the chart she'd prepared, then used a pencil to mark his height against the doorjamb, using the tape to measure it. She then had him sit in the chair at the desk to continue his exam, picking up an aural thermometer.
At last Scully put away her stethoscope as she made a note of William's heart rate and blood pressure. His basic health was fine so far with no fever this morning, despite his having gotten soaked last night. Just one more thing left.
"William," Scully began, using the tone of voice she reserved for her young patients at the hospital, "have you ever had blood drawn before?"
William furrowed his brow. "I don't think so."
"It's kind of like getting a shot," Scully continued. "Just a little prick in a vein and then it only takes a minute."
William watched closely as she assembled a few items on a tray, set it on the desk beside him and donned a pair of latex gloves.
"Let me have your left arm, honey," she said gently, straightening it as she placed his hand under her arm to hold it in place. She tied a rubber tourniquet around his upper arm and wiped the inside of his elbow with an alcohol swab. She released his arm and placed a soft rubber ball in his left hand. "I want you to squeeze the ball for me for a moment."
"This thing kind of hurts my arm," William said, touching the tourniquet.
"It'll just be a minute. It needs to be tight to help me find your vein."
She took the little needle in one hand as she probed for a vein with her finger.
"Okay, just a little pinch. You can look away if you want."
William shook his head and pressed his lips together as the needle pierced his skin. He was fascinated to see his blood filling the three little vials Scully had prepared.
Just when he was about to complain again about the pain, she removed the needle, pressing a cotton ball firmly against the spot.
"Fold your arm up for a second," she said lifting his forearm to squeeze the cotton ball in place as she removed the tourniquet and took the rubber ball from him. She put the items on the tray and turned back with a Band-Aid in her hand.
She lowered William's arm, removed the cotton ball and replaced it with the Band-Aid.
"Star Wars?" William asked, amused at the illustrations on the bandage.
"I bought them for Mulder," Scully said with a smile.
Continued in Part Four